The CMS Thursday proposed to increase Medicare payments to inpatient rehabilitation facilities by 2.9%, or $270 million, in 2021.
That figure is based on an estimated 2.5% increase factor plus a 0.4% boost in aggregate payments to peg outlier payments at 3.0% of total payments.
The agency also suggested applying a 5% cap on wage index decreases from fiscal year 2020 to 2021, as per the Office of Management and Budget's statistical area delineations.
Under the proposed rule, non-physician clinicians would be allowed to perform service and documentation tasks currently limited to rehabilitation physicians so long as they are within the practitioners' scope of practice.
The CMS also proposed to waive the requirement for post-admission physician evaluations to be completed within 24 hours of patient admission to an inpatient rehab facility. Providers could still get reimbursed for performing the evaluations if they thought it was necessary to do it.
Officials are seeking comment about how to codify preadmission screening guidance and reduce administrative work for providers.
There aren't any proposed changes to the IRF quality reporting program for next year.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration has waived several Medicare conditions of participation and loosened reimbursement rules to allow advanced practice providers like nurse practitioners and physical therapists to practice at their top of license. The industry has welcomed many of those changes with open arms, hoping to make some of them permanent. The new payment rule may signal that the administration is ready to start moving in that direction.